Re: grading ourselves to death

Jeffrey R Galin (galin+@PITT.EDU)
Wed, 4 Sep 1996 22:06:24 -0400

Yes, these questions are good ones, ones worth thrashing around
here. My point was only that when we talk about social missions we ground
it in practice. Otherwise, we are just talking. The "our" you ask about
is more complicated. What makes composition as a field so interesteing
for me is that there is no single vision or mission. I'd expect to see
people talking about mission(s).

I'll give a quick stab important practices but hold off on the
mission issue just yet. First might be a good idea to see what
our students are doing when they leave us. I haven't seen any writing
that follows where students go and what they do, nor what they think they
need from school after they have got out. With this info in hand, I'll
bet that students will need to be effective information processors,
manage large volumes of inforamation and find what they need quickly.
I'll bet they will still need strong communications skills, collaborative
work experience, and the ability to consciously transfer effective writing
practices from one context to another. These kinds of things are not so
difficult to invision in practice. I still think that the ability to see
critically into the relationships that govern daily life is essential.
This can be developed in a host of ways, but always means the ability to
ask good questions and to see through the rhetorical traps of daily life.

Well that is a start anyway.

On Wed, 4 Sep 1996, Beth W. Baldwin wrote:

> On Wed, 4 Sep 1996, Jeffrey R Galin wrote:
> > One of the assignments that all first year grads at Pitt had to
> > write when I first started teaching there required us to explain what our
> > "social mission" was for teaching. Seems to me this is the question that
> > lies behind Eric's series of questions, but on a larger scale. More like,
> > what is your social vision and why? How does it serve students, big
> > business, and the nation-state?
> > One difficulty with this question , however, is that it asks us to
> > project our teaching practices into the future. The assignment in the
> > grad seminar was grounded in the here and now. I like where this line of
> > questions is heading, but am not sure how to tackle it.
> > What do others think?
> >
> Jeffrey, I for one think that this would be a good line of questioning to
> pursue. What's wrong with projecting our teaching practices into the
> future? What better place to do that projecting than on Rhetnet?
> I'm interested in "our" social mission. To what extent can there be a
> collective "our" rather than a personal or group "our?" To what extent
> are our institutions responsible for articulating a mission and then
> asking departments and instructors to articulate how their missions relate
> to the institutional mission. Several years ago, I surveyed members of
> Rhetnet to find out whether or not their institutions/departments had
> mission statements and whether or not they knew what those statements
> said. Unfortunately, few people responded to my question at that time.
> Perhaps this would be a good time to revisit that issue.
> And considering the fact that you're talking about teaching practice here,
> I don't know how one can ethically avoid projecting into the future.
> Whether your class is a dream or a nightmare, it will have an impact on
> the future of your students.
> Beth
> ********************************************
> Beth Baldwin, Ph.D. *
> Office of Continuing Education *
> University of North Carolina at Greensboro *
> Greensboro, NC 27412-5001 *
> 910-334-5301, ext. 44 *
> *
> ********************************************

\ Jeffrey R. Galin
_/ Department of English
o// University of Pittsburgh
/-/ Pittsburgh, PA 15260
/\/ (412) 624-6506 (W)
|/ (412) 521-1472 (H)
o |\
|< \ (print/digital publishing)
_____/_\__/ (subscribe WebRights-L <name>)
_/ \___________________________________________________ . . .